The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

A movie where everyone is nice that still works

with 13 comments

Professor Kirke was always one of my favorite characters in the Narnia chronicles. I loved when he lectured Peter and Susan as they came to him with their concerns about the sanity of their sister Lucy after listening to her ramblings about visits to another world inside the wardrobe:

“Logic! Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.”

In Lars and the Real Girl, there’s a psychiatrist who reminds me a bit of the professor when she full of confidence, without a moment of hesitation claims: “she’s real”.

She says this in reply to Gus, who has come to her, worried about the mental state of his brother Lars. Lars seems to always have been a bit of an odd guy, but now things have gone too weird for Gus to cope with. Lars has bought a real life sized doll, who he now claims to be his girl friend, and he expects everyone else to treat her as such.

After the initial reluctance Gus and his wife slowly start to accept the new family member. And since they’re living in the countryside, it’s not only a family business. The entire village gets involved.

A sweet movie
I’ll keep this review short and sweet. Because that’s what I think this movie is. A sweetie, in a good sense.

The stakes aren’t high. Actually they’re pretty much nonexistent. I suppose there is a risk that someone would send Lars to a mental institution, but it’s fairly obvious that his brother and sister-in-law while troubled by his pick of girl friend wouldn’t do such a thing.

All characters are pretty much agreeable persons who do their best to treat each other well. There isn’t even a proper conflict, just a few worries and you can suspect that things probably will sort out pretty well eventually

It’s a feelgood movie alright, but as opposed to other films with this label, it doesn’t feel vapid or sanitized. It’s something as unusual as a movie where everyone is nice which still works.

For me it raised some questions about the nature of mental illness. Is it so clear who has it and who hasn’t? What exactly is a sane person? And if someone doesn’t fit exactly into the standard behavior, isn’t it mostly a problem for the surrounding people?

Perhaps you could accuse Lars and the Real Girl for idealizing the life in small-town America, but after watching an endless stretch of movies taking place in depressing urban environments, where we see someone walking around feeling sorry for himself (for good reasons) and nothing every changes, Lars and the Real Girl feels fresh and almost revolutionary with its heartfelt message.

This was exactly what I needed. It’s a movie that makes me happy in the same way that Groundhog Day made me happy. It makes me believe in humanity.

As an extra bonus I got to watch Ryan Gosling once again. This was before his abs got photoshopped and he wears an utterly unattractive moustache, but this doesn’t take away from him that he’s a wonderful actor and perfect in this role.

Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie, US, 2007) My rating: 4,5/5

Written by Jessica

December 19, 2011 at 1:00 am

13 Responses

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  1. I saw this almost a year ago. One of my friends recommended it to me. It is actually a nice movie – Sweet rather as you said. My First Gosling I think And whenever I see Ryan Gosling in Ides or Drive or Blue Valentine, I always have to remind myself that it is the same Gosling From Lars and the Real Girl.
    I also remember Lars and the Real Girl for Emily Mortimer. She was really good as well.

    SDG

    December 19, 2011 at 1:28 am

    • I wish I had seen this one before watching Drive. When things got too nasty in Drive I could have snapped and thought back at the Lars Gosling.

      Jessica

      December 19, 2011 at 7:57 am

  2. I like this film. It’s sweet and funny. Plus, that Bianca was such a joy to watch.

    Steven Flores

    December 19, 2011 at 2:26 am

    • Hehe… Yes, what an actress. 🙂 It was cute to see her in the about-movie in the extra material. They seemed to treat her like a real person too.

      Jessica

      December 19, 2011 at 7:56 am

  3. I’m glad to hear you liked this one. I’m a big fan of it myself, for many of the same reasons you mentioned. It’s films like Lars and the Real Girl that reminds me how commonplace cynicism has become (not that I can’t get cynical with the best of them…). As you say, a movie so intent on showing that people can actually be kind feels refreshing.

    And Gosling is excellent here. It was the first film of his I saw, and I’ve been a big fan ever since. And then you have the supporting cast, with Mortimer and Clarkson being great as well.

    Wonderful movie. Great review too, as usual. Keep up the good work!

    Emil

    December 19, 2011 at 9:57 am

    • Thanks Emil! I wish there were more movies like this. I feed my cynism way too much with the movies I usually watch.

      Jessica

      December 19, 2011 at 10:21 am

  4. Ah Jessica, this film is amazing.

    As you know I love Gosling, a little too much for a hetro sexual man, and it is so nice to see a self deprecating Ryan here. He is not buff, he is not well groomed, and he is definitely broken, and yet the whole town loves him. Awesome and quaint film

    Thanks for this matey

    Scott Lawlor

    December 19, 2011 at 11:22 am

    • Thanks Scott! Yes, it’s a way “softer” Gosling we see here. I think it shows what a great actor he is. He can play a variety of different types in a convincing way.

      Jessica

      December 19, 2011 at 12:37 pm

  5. Oh you Gosling fanboy 🙂

    It’s a good movie indeed and I’m looking forwards to see more of Goslings work, he’s a great actor.

    Carra

    December 19, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    • Guilty as charged! I’m indeed a fangirl. My husband blantantly refuses to watch any more Gosling. But I keep on backtracking him. Next up is Fracture, which also stars Anthony Hopkins. I look forward to that one!

      Jessica

      December 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm

      • *Checks his movie ratings*… I gave it a “good rating”. To be honest, I don’t remember much about the movie.

        Carra

        December 20, 2011 at 12:30 pm

  6. My wife rented this movie and it just seemed to be plain stupid but i thought i give it a try. Once again my wife has proven to be the one who can pick good films. I loved it. It was a genuine feelgood movie 🙂

    filmitch

    December 20, 2011 at 12:48 am


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